Embark on an enthralling whale-watching experience from Downtown Sitka where you spot these magnificent mammals and other marine animals in the waters of Alaska! You'll discover the beauty of the ocean on this 2-hour tour that offers an exciting and intimate nature encounter in the comfort of a warm 26-foot Glacier Bay Catamaran. Small-group tour limited to six people ensures a more personalized experience.
A ship shuttle into town will bring guests to meet up with their small group tour at the Visitor Center (Harrigan Centennial Hall). From there, guests will board a safe 26-foot Glacier Bay Catamaran for their whale watching tour. Specifically designed for smooth sailing and safe travel, the twin engine vessel will transport guests to the action swiftly. A warm cabin with full windows allows guests to take in the views comfortably from indoors, while a sizable deck is available for open-air viewing.
This 2 hour marine and whale watching portion of the tour takes guests to some of the most stunning settings and habitats around. The conditions of the sea and weather will determine the day's itinerary. Whale watching will undoubtedly be the focus, but a smaller group allows the captain to adjust the tour to incorporate what guests want to see most. Those interested in viewing marine wildlife like roaring sea lions, otters reclining in kelp, whales feeding in pods, or even a bear roaming the nearby beaches won't be disappointed on this tour. There will be ample photo opportunities of the region's beauty and wildlife whatever time of year it is.
Comfortable and small capacity vans will transport guests throughout the rest of the land portion of the tour. Driving over O'Connell Bridge will give guests a wonderful view of Sitka on the way to Japonski Island, where Sitka's history in World War II will be revealed as well as Russia's place in Sitka's history. The next stop brings guests to the popular Fortress of the Bears; a naturalized habitat offering visitors opportunities for up-close viewing of local rescued brown bears.
The tour concludes by returning guests to the Visitor Center in the downtown area. Shopping is a mere 10 minute walk away for those with time to spare, or else guests can hop aboard a shuttle back to the ship terminal.
Included: Snacks and bottled water.
Please note: Maximum of 6 passengers.
Duration: 4 hours (Roundtrip from Visitor Center). Whale Watching: 2 hours. Scenic Tour: 2 hours.)
Duration: 4 hours (Roundtrip from cruise ship terminal. Whale Watching: 2 hours. Scenic Tour: 2 hours.)
- Snacks and bottled water
- Life jackets for the boating portion of tour
Duration: 4 hours. Tour times below are approximate:
- 2 hours guided narrated bus tour with multiple scenic stops
- 2 hours guided marine boat tour
- This tour meets at the dock your ship tenders to. Fully detailed instructions are included on your finalized ticket vouchers.
ADA Accessibility of Tour:
- This tour is limited mobility accessible. Guests must be able to climb 4 steps into and out of the boat. There is no space for collapsible wheelchairs or walkers. There is no storage available for motorized scooters. Please leave a comment during checkout if accommodations for collapsible equipment will be required on tour.
How many passengers does the boat hold?
There is a maximum capacity of 6 guests.
What is the seating arrangement in the boat?
Every boat has open seating as well as outside viewing areas when permitted.
Is there an inside seating area on the boat, is it heated?
The interior of the boat is heated when needed due to weather conditions to keep a comfortable environment.
How close can we get to the whales?
Humpback whales and other sea animals are protected species and a safe distance of at least 100 yards must be maintained at all times according to NOAA regulations.
Will I see any wildlife or bears on this tour?
Wildlife is abundant in Southeast Alaska and sightings are possible on any tour. Bears will be viewable at the Fortress of the Bears stop during the tour.
What is the temperature on the water?
Air temperature can drop as much as 20°F with the wind chill factor when viewing whales outside.
Are there any age restrictions for children?
There are no age restrictions for this tour.
Can I bring a backpack?
Backpacks, small bags, and purses are allowed on this tour.
Can I bring my own food or drink?
Non-alcoholic beverages in a closeable containters and snacks are allowed on tour.
Are food and drink included?
Snacks and bottled water are included during the tour.
What is the wheelchair accessibility of this excursion?
The transportation van does not have the capacity to accommodate most wheelchairs, collapsible or not, unfortunately.
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Jul 2019 - Lori S.
Part of what made our tour so great were the guides we had! Sonny was our captain and it was obvious he had a lot of experience as he knew where to go to find all the wildlife! We were fortunate to see whales (along with a few tail shots!), seals, sea otters and of course eagles! Lindsay was our driver for the land tour and although she rarely did this, being an Alaskan native as well, she was also amazing. Very knowledgeable but her genuine kind spirit really shone! I loved the walk through the park with all the eagles and seeing all the fish in the river. Thank you for being such great tour guides, you really made our day!
Jun 2018 - DARLENE D.
Had a great time with our tour guide, "Sonny," on the boat. He made sure we saw whales, eagles, sea lions, and best of all: the otters! The boat was top notch, very comfortable. Highly recommended.
Oct 2017 - Teresa R.
Only six people on this tour total on a small, very well looked after boat. Our guide was Sunny, he was a great man with lots of information and very friendly and polite and he knew everything about everything. We saw so many whales, sea otters, sea lions and then on our way back to land Sunny took us to see an eagles nest even though we had already seen quite a few bald eagles flying from Island to Island and on the rocks.
Then we had our land tour with Vivian, another great guide with a fantastic sense of humour and more knowledgable than ever. Very friendly and her tour was great as well, we saw the beautiful bears in the Bear fortress sanctuary and what a fabulous experience this was as one bear was actually crunching on a deer carcass in the water and taking no notice of all the visitors around him, another bear kept standing up posing for photos, the sanctuary is a fantastic place for the orphaned bears. The coastal drive on the small tour bus was so beautiful and then we went to the forest for a great informative walk with Vivian and saw the totem poles as well as learning about all trees, berries and plants and the natural remedies that are made from them. Then after walking around the quaint town I bumped into Vivian with her two dogs and got to pet them and talk again to Vivian about her dogs. What a fantastic day, I really did not want to leave this tour and Island. I would more than thoroughly recommend this small group tour.
May 2017 - Zohreh A.
This tour was awesome. Sonny and Maria were great. We really enjoyed all the information that was given to us. Sitka is a beautiful city.
Jun 2016 - Jacqueline M.
The boat portion of this tour was great. We saw sea otters and 5 humpback whales with a calf. The boat was comfortable and the captain very knowledgeable. The land portion was just okay. The bears were fun to see. Our land tour guide was not the best.